Chiniguchi Lake - Laura Creek Loop

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Thu, Jul 04, 2002
Route Author: 
Sid Bredin
Additional Route Information
57 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
5310 m
Longest Portage: 
990 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Begin at access point on Matagamasi Lake, 31.5 km north of Hwy 17, east of Sudbury on the Kukagami road
Paddle out of small bay and head northerly on Matagamasi Lk
North-northeast up McCarthy Bay
P700 into Laura Creek, portage located about 400m north of where Laura Creek enters into McCarthy Bay
North 1 km along Laura Creek
P190 creek left into Wessel Lake
North on Wessel Lake
P120 creek left into Bonesteel Lake
North on Bonesteel Lake
P445 creek right into Irish Lake
North on Irish Lake
P800 creek right (1st 85m to old logging road)
North on small pond, wade/lift over into Evelyn Lake
North on Evelyn Lake to Laura Creek
North on Laura Creek to first shallow section. 3 step process from here to navigable water further north on Laura Creek
Step 1
2 options: Option A – P300 creek east, 35 m carry over boggy ground to forest edge. Inside trees an old cart path just to right of trail – turn left after approx 300 m at small clearing down to gravely landing. If you stay on trail and reach beaver meadow on your right, you`ve gone too far
Option B – wade through creek if water levels are sufficiently high, 1st section muddy but firms up as you head upstream. At far end, lift over old beaver dam through gravel shallows and portage put-in will be to your right
Step 2
Get in canoe and make way up narrow channel over exposed mud beds head towards open water of small lake area to your left. DO NOT WADE, BOTTOMLESS MUD
Just as you near open water, take small channel entering over the mud from your right.
Paddle, push, pole along to point where semi solid ground and a few stable rocks come close to the channel on your left or northern bank.
Step 3
2 options: Option A- P210 creek left across boggy ground to tree line. Head northwest along old gravel beach, last 60m through dense bush to small muddy landing on Laura Creek
Option B- wade through- continue past portage pull-out up narrow channel which swings north. Pending water levels, may be several old beaver dams to lift over. Near end of section channel widens into small pool and has a 20m lift over bedrock into Laura Creek
North on Laura Creek, lift over partially submerged tree
P160 m creek right at metal bridge
North and west on Laura Lake to narrow marshy bay
P990 to McConnell Bay (Chiniguchi Lake) portage on southern shore at extreme end of western bay on Laura Lake
West on McConnell Bay to Chiniguchi Lake
South on Chiniguchi Lake to Southwest bay
P540 from rocky landing at extreme southeastern tip of Southeast Bay
South on Dewdney Lake through narrows to narrow chutes
P200 river left to Wolf Lake
South on Wolf Lake through chute to Silvester Lake
South on Silvester Lake through narrows to river
P360 river left past several waterfalls to small pond
South on Pond
P 295 river right to Matagamasi Lake or run/wade/line narrow chute pending water levels
South on North Arm of Matagamasi Lake, 8 km to take out at access point

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Chiniguchi Lk – Laura Creek Loop
Solo Trip – July 4-6/02

Day 1

Left Sudbury around 7:00am with my solo “partner” Sasha my friendly Golden Retriever, who doesn`t paddle but helps with the portaging of gear with her panniers. East on Hwy 17, up the Kukagami Rd. to the put in on Matagamasi Lk. Arriving approx 8:30. Road is well used but can be a bit rough, however I drive a `91 Corolla and never have any problem. Unpack the gear and load canoe and am on the water by 8:50 heading out of the small bay and north east on Matagamasi Lk.

Start to head across the lake in a NE direction past several cottages and a lodge as I`m aiming for McCarthy Bay. Weather is gorgeous with a slight NW wind and the temperatures have dropped to low to mid 20`s after a week of mid 30`s and humidex readings in the high 30`s low 40`s. Entrance to the bay is roughly 3.5 km from the landing and about a further 7 km up the bay to the first portage. At about 10:00 am a stronger breeze comes up and for winds supposedly out of the NW, which would be quartering from my left, it`s dead in my face, as it seems to be funnelling down the bay! With the winds forecast to be 25 km from the NW later in the day, I can only imagine what`s in store as I head north through the smaller lakes and creeks. I arrive at the first portage at 11:10, which heads north into a wide section of Laura Creek. Portage (700m) in good shape and easy to follow along, however due to high water the put in is full of logs and I had to worm around them to get back on the water. As I walked along the portage to the left you can catch glimpses of an old log flume along the creek. Spent a few minutes checking it out but the mosquitoes are plentiful to say the least!

From here it`s about 1 km to the next portage (190m) into Wessel Lk. Portage left of creek, up hill into lake. There is a trail to left, which brings you up onto a high rock ridge overlooking the lake where people have camped( UTM 322884). With a stiff breeze blowing now and no bugs it was a good spot for lunch as well. Less than 1 km paddling brought us to the next portage into Bonesteel Lk. This portage is not that long at 120m, but with the high water I paddled almost to the bottom of the old dam structure and had a carry of about 40m left around the dam. With the brisk wind, the lake has small whitecaps and paddling is a bit of a chore, however it is about 1 km to the next portage into Irish Lk. and doesn`t seem to bad.

The portage take out is the pits, through mud, lab tea and willows for about 35 m, then steeply uphill for about 70 m. Once on top there is a good trail that`s fairly level to the put in on Irish Lk. Sasha seems to be labouring on this portage till I notice I set her saddle bags too far back from her shoulders, a quick adjustment and she`s fine. There is a good put in on Irish Lk., rock at the end of a narrow part of the lake. As the wind is keeping the bugs at bay, I stop to filter a couple of litres of water and the dog snoozes in the shade, she has the better job on these trips for sure! The wind continues to increase in strength as the day progresses but with the cooler temperatures (low 20`s) the paddling is still quite manageable. It also helps that I have a Kevlar Nova Craft Bob`s Special with a fairly low profile that I use solo and I find it can handle a good chop on the water, doesn`t get blown around too badly and stays dry. There is a small campsite just north of the put in on Irish Lk,(UTM 323912).

About another 1.3 km of paddling brings us to today`s longest portage (800m) into Laura Ck just south of Evelyn Lk. Where I plan to spend the night. The take out isn`t too bad, a little muddy but in low water it would be much muddier. The 1st 90m or so are along a rocky point between the creek on your left and a small bay on your right. It then swings left onto an old road and is in excellent shape to the put in. As I have been double carrying each portage, I walked an extra km on the 2nd trip as I wasn`t paying a lot of attention and I wandered past the turnoff down to the take out and ended up in another bay and had to backtrack. The put in is on rock and you put into a small pond that then connects to Evelyn Lk., I waded the canoe through the shallow area rather then fight the wind, current and rock garden. The south end of Evelyn Lk. is shallow and I estimate the winds were approx 30km/hr, it took about 30 minutes to paddle 1km, through 1 ½` whitecaps to our campsite for the night. The first 2 islands on the eastern side of the lake both have good campsites with the eastern most island well used (UTM 314932). Since the area was directly exposed to the wind I chose the island due west (UTM 312932), which is more sheltered from the north and northwest winds. I arrived at 17:00 hrs. Even with the sheltering trees there was enough wind to keep the bugs at bay all evening especially as the winds stayed up most of the night.

Day 2

Up at the crack of 6:45 for breakfast. Wind blew all night and was still up although not as bad as yesterday yet, however will be paddling into wind most of the day. On the water at 8:10 heading north on Evelyn into Laura Ck. Lots of water, paddled till got shallow and was fighting the current and then just walked through the creek. Dog was busy exploring all across the swale bottoms in and out of the mud. Creek bottom is good with mostly sand and gravel with the odd deposit of silty material. Reached beaver dam and pushed canoe most of the way up and then climbed the dam to finish the job, the dam is probably 6` high. As I crested the dam there standing to my right close to the bush line but in the water was a cow/calf moose combination. Not sure who was the most surprised but the cow gave a grunt and that calf was gone like a shot with her not too far behind. Glad the dog was still down in the creek rooting around and didn`t see them or the lot of them would probably have been ½ way to the Sturgeon River! There was lots of water above the dam and I was able to paddle thru a small pothole and up the creek to a lift over into another creek section. As long as the beaver dam holds, there should be sufficient water above to minimize any portaging to the lift over. This section to the lift-over took 55 minutes to complete but would be longer in lower water and I had even taken time on this morning to watch a Kingfisher going about getting it`s breakfast for about 15 minutes.

From the lift-over to the next portage is about ½ km of creek travel up to a steel bridge over a logging road. There was a bull moose feeding in the creek about 60m south of the bridge and since the wind was directly in our face I was able to paddle up to within about 35m of it. The moose was in the shadows and hard to pick out and I saw it`s antlers moving first and the dog could smell it but not see it for a bit. Once she did see it was interesting to watch her want to go investigate but she stayed put. The moose finally saw or heard us and slowly meandered up the bank and disappeared. The portage (150m) around the bridge and a set of rapids ends in a rock pile and can be a bit awkward loading the canoe.
From here on the wind is in my face at most times, but since we are still in the creek it`s not too bad yet. I can just imagine what Laura Lk. is going to be like.

It is about 1 ½ km through the creek to Laura Lk and as I suspected the wind is pushing some fairly good sized waves down the south end. I put down my head and push off for the 3rd island up the lake, which is about ½ way to the next portage. Along the way I pass 3 canoes down bound , 3 persons per canoe. With today`s winds I would have rigged a sail for sure. Upon reaching the island, I rest and retighten my yoke as a bolt and nut had worked itself loose and checked out the campsite (UTM 300993) . It`s approx. 2 ½ km to the portage out of Laura Lk into McConnell Bay of Chiniguchi Lk. The last ½ km is in a weedy bay and a huge snapping turtle comes off the log it was on as we paddle by about 50m from the take out. This is the longest portage on this route (1 km) and it goes up and down over several ridges and also crosses about 175 m of bog in the middle section! Stay on the logs, the dog got off them and sank up to the her saddle bags in the muck, quite comical actually – her standing there looking at me to come get her! Once she got a good look at my back she decided she was quite able to do it on her own. Past the bog, the trail climbs a 2nd ridge and there are several huge logs across the trail. There is only 1 without a trail around it that you have to climb over. Once you start down towards McConnell Bay you run into a tree leaning across the trail, you can squeak under it with a pack but I had to let down the canoe to get under. All in all the double carry took an hour.

The difference in the water`s colour from Laura to the Chiniguchi system is immediately noticeable as the water in the Chiniguchi system has a clear blue colour. It stays this colour all the way down the system till you re-enter Matagamasi Lk. It has something to do with the type of rock in the area, much like the waters in Killarney. There is a long beach on the north shore of the bay with a great campsite area (UTM 264999) if one was looking to stay or layover. As for me I decided to push on out to Chiniguchi Lk and fight the wind out to the lake where it changes to be at my back finally after 1 ½ days of pushing into it. I land and find 2 poles and with my rain jacket, rig a sail of sorts. It works fine, I had planned on stopping for the day about 1 ½ km down the lake on the east side (UTM 245992) but the sail works so well I end sailing about 6km down to the Southeast Bay of Chiniguchi where I stop for the day at 16:00 hrs. Nice campsite on a point (UTM 238949) covered in Red Pines with enough of a breeze to keep most of the bugs at bay for the evening.

Day 3

Wake up to let the dog out, it`s dead calm for the first time since I left the car and it sounds like every mosquito in the area is outside wanting in! There is a heavy smell of smoke in the air and the sun is just a red orb in the haze. I found out later that there are large fires in Northern Quebec and the smoke is travelling the winds as far south as Barrie that day. The mosquitoes are ferocious and I resort to long pants and sleeves plus head net while I make breakfast and prepare to hit the water. I`m back on the water at 8:35 and it is dead calm, the only ripples come from the 2 loons swimming around us as we pass. It`s about 1.7 km to the next portage into Dewdney Lk. and the mosquitoes follow us all the way. Excellent portage into Dewdney Lk (540m) this is one of my favourite portages anywhere, fairly level not too long and some of the most amazing tree specimens around. There are some huge White Pine, White Spruce, Yellow birch and Poplar growing along the trail. There is one huge pine close to the Dewdney Lk. end that if you look closely at you can see an old lightning strike that spirals down the massive trunk.

Back on the water at 9:35 and heading down the lake. There is an old Lands and Forests tower cabin on the eastern shore of the lake just west of a small swale/creek leading into Franks Lk. The tower is visible on the high point east of Dewdney and north of Franks Lk. You paddle through a narrows about ½ way down the lake, which is full of huge rocks many with paint and aluminium marks on them! The portage to Wolf Lk., is down a small bay at the south end of the lake. Portage left out of Dewdney (200m) it crosses a logging road then down through a natural rock groove to the water.

Wolf Lk. is one of my favourite lakes, it is ringed by large rocky hills and ridges, and Red Pine stands. There are several campsites around the lake and I have laid over here for a couple days on past trips, relaxing and hiking the ridges. On the west shore about mid lake there is an abandoned gold mine site. There is not much left, some rotten barrels and lumber and quite a few metal drill core tubes sticking out of the ground all over the site. We stop for lunch at one the campsites on the east shore but the mosquitoes don`t give us any peace so we move on. There is an old trapper`s cabin on the west shore at the channel leading to Silvester Lk. The channel has a small chute that drops slightly into Silvester. The water is high enough on this trip that there is hardly a ripple and we just float right through. In the past I have had to line through here as there are quite a few rocks in the chute that are exposed in low water. Silvester Lk is about 1.7 km long to the next portage. The eastern shore is a huge Red Pine covered ridge, quite impressive.

Another highlight of this route is the area the adjacent to the portage past the next section of the Chiniguchi River. The river funnels through a rock chute and then passes over series of waterfalls. There is series of pools along this stretch and one of them on the western side of the river is a notable swimming hole, “Paradise Lagoon”. Take the time to explore the area, take pictures and have a dip. The portage (350m) often gets narrow and has some sections with steep embankments down to the river, so exercise some caution. The put in is in a small pond area that is only about 300m to the next channel or chute into the north arm of Matagamasi Lk. You can portage around the chute or run/wade/line down. If portaging, the take out is in a stand of cedar trees just before the river narrows through some boulders. The portage (300m) is a good trail through although there was a new tree down across the trail since last year. The put in is in a rocky area and in low water can be quite muddy,

We are on the water again at 13:40 after lunch and the take out/access point is about 8 km south. The sun is still obscured by smoke and haze and there is still not much wind and lots of mosquitoes. The north arm is fairly shallow and there are many water lilies present down both shorelines. I pass another group (4) canoes heading up the system about 5 km from the landing. At this point the sun finally appears as the wind comes up and just for old times sake decides to blow in my face for the last hour of paddling to the car! Arrive at the car at 15:30 and after loading gear, having a quick swim and changing into a clean set of clothes, I head off for Sudbury at 16:15 and will be home for a cool beer and supper.

Area had high water at this time, if water lower some of the portage put in/outs would be more difficult (muddy, longer etc) however the trails are in good shape with very few downed trees or other obstacles.

- With the north-south orientation of the lakes and hilly terrain throughout the area, one should be prepared to deal with wind and waves along the route, especially the larger lakes such as Matagamasi and Chiniguchi.

- This was a 3 day trip and I travelled on average 8hrs/day combined paddling and portaging, there are several excellent areas you could layover and explore if you wanted to extend your trip by a day or two

Sid Bredin

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 I/15 Milnet<br />
Special Comments: 

Loop could be travelled in either direction. Although possible to do in 3 days, a 4 day trip provides for time to enjoy the beautiful and unique features in this area.
The eastern side of the loop from Laura down to McCarthy Bay was used to float timber to more southerly mill locations for lumber. Remnants of dams and flume structures can be found along the way.
At the narrows in McCarthy Bay, pictographs can be found on a vertical rock face on the western shore, just before the bay begins to open again.
Several options are available for the canoeist when travelling on Chiniguchi Lake. East of Caribou Island down to Southeast bay, or west of Caribou Island and then through the narrows at the southern end of the island into Southeast Bay. A 3rd option is to travel down the west side of Chinguichi Lake to Shed Lake, East to the northeast corner of Shed Lake, P250 into Dead Lake, northeast on Dead Lake and P35 creek left back into Chiniguchi Lake on Southeast Bay.

Sid Bredin


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


To save everyone the hassle of driving around in circles,the second put in mentioned in Kevin Callans book, has recently been closed and has large "No trespassing" signs as it was privately owned and has since been sold. There is also no parking areas nearby so its probably a good bet to take the extra paddle from the firt put in.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Lived and travelled in the entire area.Some of the most beautiful country you will ever see. Take the time to explore the shores of the different lakes. There are many secrets hiding among the trees and rocks. Trust me!!

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


At McConnell Lake the campground on the north shore is lovely, large sandy beach, we spent July 1st (Canada Day) completly alone, the only fireworks was the star studded sky all night. Great trip.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


safe and friendly parking on matagamasi lake,the eyres #902 ,these people are there all summer will help with loading and unloading and some helpful tips about the for trailers.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Chiniguchi Lake Loop - An excellent trip
July 2006
Travel day: We ( Bo, Bob, Brian,, Emil, Ken,, & Ray) left London about 5:30 PM on Thursday June 29 and drove to Listowel for pick up Neil. By the time we left London, Neal was already waiting for us at the Norvic Motel in Wahnapitae. The traffic was light and it rained a little bit on the drive up. We arrived in the rain, at the Norvic Motel about 1:30 AM and lights were out about 2 AM.
Trip day 1: We were on the water and paddling at 10:17 AM. Our intended destination was one of the camp sites on Wofle Lake. The paddle up the North Arm. The two portages were not very difficult. There was sufficent water so we were able to paddle up the two liftovers. Our campsite was the first site past the liftover into Wolfe Lake. There were 2 or 3 other sites occupied that night.
Trip day 2: We were on the water about 8 AM and were headed to a campsite on the north end Chiniguchi Lake. The portage into Southeast Bay was another "walk in the park". The weather was threatening rain. The "Elephant" was sleeping when we arrived. It certainly is interesting, had the weather been a little more pleasant we may have climbed the head of it. The canoes were turned over and the tents were up by 2:30 PM. It rained off and on for the rest of the day, with a strong wind coming out of the south. About 5:30 PM a couple paddled past in the rain looking for a site.
Trip day 3 and lay over day 4: The wind changed direction to the west and the strenght stayed the same as we climbed out of our tents. We were on the water about 7:50 AM headed for a campsite on Evelyn Lake. Our concerns of rough water did not materialize as we paddled in the protection of the northwestern shore of Chiniguchi Lake. The entrance into McConnell Bay was easily located and we paddled into our fisrt portage of the day. This portage was 750 m in lenght and was the most interesting of the trip. The top map (Milnet 41-I/15), indicated some wetland. It was that alright. We walked the poles for about a rugby field. Ray lost his footing and almost his footwear in the muck. Only the footings of the bridge between Laura Lake and Laura Creek remain. The two portages into Evelyn Lake were quite enjoyable. The first was portage a little difficult at the beginning, after we were out on the road it was quite easy. The second portage was covered in pine needles, making it gentle on our tired feet. We made camp about 2:30 PM on Evelyn Lake. The site was spacious and a good wind. This site was home for our lay over.
Trip day 5: After a good sleep and some breakfast, we were on the water by 8:20 AM headed for a campsite on McCarthy Bay. The three portages into Wessle Lake were a little more difficult than the others. The lift over between Wessel Lake and the creek (long thin body of water) draining it into McCarthy Bay is about 200 m in length; making it one of the longest lift overs I've ever completed. The steady decline down the contour lines made it very interesting. The logging shoot was very impressive. If you looked into the bush along the 700 m portage into McCarthy Bay, you could see the very impressive work the early loggers completed to move the logs from Wessel Lake into the McCarthy Bay. There was a clap of thunder near the end of this last portage that made all in sight jump. We were into camp about 2 PM.
Trip day 6 and homeward bound: We were up at 6:20 AM and on the water by 7:20 AM. The boys were anxious to get home. Two of us had a wedding to attend on Saturday and another had his first wedding anniversary the same day. The paddle down McCarthy Bay was completed by 10 AM. The pictographs were very interesting. We were home in London by 8:30 PM without mishap.
This trip was excellent. We were concerned about the route located so close to Sudbury, we should not have worried. On this trip we decided to travel "light". Breakfast each morning was one minute oatmeal with cranberries, brown sugar and bacon bits washed down with tea or coffee. Each of us carried our own lunch. It consisted of beef and turkey jerky, gouda mini wheels (red and brown), brownies, rice crispy squares, gorp, biscotti and dried fruit strips. Suppers started with a variety of cheese, smoked fish (which we could not get) and some kobonsy, this was followed (in no particular order) with; pasta with pesto and tomato paste, tuna helper, nansi goreng, (spicy Indonesian dish) and two meals of instant potatoes with garlic, We also carried garlic powder, Mrs. Dash. Tabasco sauce and parmesen cheese. There were four liters of really good wine to accompany the appropriate meals.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


thanks for the info
we hope to explore the route for the first time this summer

Post date: Sun, 04/18/2010 - 15:15


I am looking for a contact number for the Chiniguchi Lodge. A group from Sarnia is looking to start our trip from the lodge and go as far as Paradise Lagoon and then back again. Is this possible?